An Index of Around Me: By Gary Llama, 218 pgs. By Kurt

This is a series of very short essays (most are just three to five pages in the 3” x 5” book) on a number of topics of importance to the author, Gary Llama. They originally appeared in his zines, on his website, and some are entirely new. The essays look at topics such as unions, consumerism, ethics, and the like. Much of this reads like beginnings to essays for college courses; the writing approaches the intellectual but never goes much beyond basic premises.

It wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I started connecting with Llama. It was then that he finally decided to get personal and share stuff about his life: his experience as someone who owned an audio mastering studio, an illness and recovery. Shit was getting real! But then, bam: an essay that was written as a response to a book called Collage Culture. What? No. Give me more about your life. My own history of doing personal zines may be clouding my judgment, but the personal stuff is where you draw the reader in. Unless you’re a noted cultural critic or known academic writer, then your shit about culture and society better be top notch, and I wasn’t getting that from the author’s essays. The author has some good stories to share and, perhaps, he also has some good insights into the world around us. But I felt I was shorted on both ends. The pseudo-academic writings weren’t in-depth enough to thoroughly explore a subject and the personal stuff wasn’t frequent enough to carry the weight of the book.

One line that did make me laugh out loud was the essay that started: “My super awesome ex-wife found these vacuum tubes the other day while cleaning and dropped them off with me.” I can’t say I’ve ever heard the phrase, “My super awesome ex-wife.” See? That is worth a story. How could someone decide that his ex-wife is super awesome? I want to read about that! Kurt Morris (Ovolr! / Debackle, PO Box 7019, Richmond, VA23221)